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By Clare Jupp

Mastering the art of staff retention

It was fantastic to share an evening of celebration with a group of team members, who can boast 5 years+ of continuous service at Brightstar. Stalwarts, ambassadors, champions; all of these are worthy descriptions of these outstanding employees, and we feel delighted and proud to have retained them within the organisation during these formative years of the business.

Retention isn’t a given however, and like all businesses, we work hard to retain people. We know the dangers of ignoring high levels of employee turnover and thus, the cost of regularly losing and replacing staff. Indeed, as we all know, high turnover of staff lowers internal morale and can harm an organisation’s external reputation and cost it business.

To this end, in order to retain people, I think that as well as finding out what people like about your organisation and what they want to see and experience, it is equally vital to grasp an understanding of why people resign from their jobs and to consider what actions, if any, can be taken to prevent the loss of valuable team members. Interestingly, research suggests that the most common reasons for leaving a job are likely to include the following.

  • Poor salary and benefits
  • A lack of training and development opportunities
  • Dissatisfaction with management
  • Not getting along with colleagues
  • The journey to work
  • Lack of work/life balance
  • More attractive job elsewhere
  • Desire to reshape lifestyle

Of course some of these factors can’t be entirely controlled by the employer, but many can and it is always worth finding out from your employees how they are feeling about their working experience and the organisation itself. This can be achieved via various methods including staff surveys and even exit interviews. However, the most important thing, in my opinion, is to have an open and transparent business culture where employees feel confident and secure to make suggestions and know that their honesty will be respected and their views listened to and considered.

Company culture is ‘king’ as far as we are concerned, but in our experience, securing high levels of team commitment and staff retention will also be achieved by adopting a range of approaches;

  • Ensuring that those being recruited have a realistic and full idea of what the job role involves
  • Ensuring that the person ‘fits’ the culture of the business and that the business is ‘right’ for them
  • Offering outstanding people development opportunities and career support
  • Providing of coaching sessions, regular 1-1s with managers and annual Professional Development Review meeting
  • Providing encouragement as well as opportunity to grow, develop and achieve
  • Adopting and practising strong diversity policies and flexible working practices
  • Encouraging a good work/life balance and ensuring that leaders and managers role model this
  • Providing plentiful opportunities for staff to give feedback, provide opinion/ input and register dissatisfaction
  • Rewarding and recognising contribution and achievement
  • Showcasing and sharing outstanding practice and having role models in the business who have achieved great things by doing great work and showing loyalty and commitment
  • Providing opportunities for fun, for team bonding and for the sharing of successes
  • Having a winning attitude and a culture of winning

Keeping people in the organisation is essentially about keeping staff happy and feeling valued.  At Brightstar we operate as a ‘family’ where people feel ‘connected’ and cared for. Dale Carnegie (author of ‘How to win Friends and Influence People’) stated, “It is said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave people.” Conversely then, this suggests that people stay in an organisation essentially because of the people they work for and with. Since its introduction, our bi annual staff survey has received a 100% ‘strongly agree’ to the question ‘Brightstar is a great place to work’. One of our business values is ‘We love what we do’ and it is this passion that makes people want to come to work every day and do great things together.  Our staff retention is high and people are happy.

Just to provide some balance here, an organisation should not, of course, always see a degree of staff turnover as a weakness. On the contrary, a moderate level of staff turnover can be good for a business; it allows fresh ideas and approaches and is often healthy and necessary. We are honest and open about the fact that not every Brightstar has ‘made the 5 year party’, but we feel entirely confident that with every change and development, we have moved from absolute strength to strength. Most leavers remain good friends of the business and take away with them a wealth of positive experiences. Some want to come back and some indeed have.

The message is simple, staff retention is vital to the health and success of a business and doesn’t happen by accident. Whilst you may feel that we can’t stop employees from leaving, energy should perhaps be placed on making a plan to make them stay. Indeed, proactive initiatives to retain people are considerably cheaper than those used to replace them.